Tag Archives: School

The End of a Really Long Week

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Just an update to my most recent post about starting my job at a public school district…

I completed three days in the district this week, with Wednesday off, and today (Friday) in one of the Catholic schools. I can now honestly say that I would give anything to be a teacher in that Catholic school rather than in the school district.

On Thursday, I had a half decent day. Students still tried to fall asleep in class and some were extremely disrespectful towards me and the class aide, but it was better than the beginning of the week. Until the end of the day… I was on my way out of the building and stopped by the office to say thank you and that I was heading out. The next thing I know, a uniformed officer, the assistant principals, and a secretary walk in with kids who are muddy, drenched, and bleeding. Apparently these students couldn’t even hold in their anger and rage for the five minutes from the classroom to the bus stop.

I again want to reiterate the fact that some of the kids in these schools say they hate the place because of all of the “crap” that goes on. I feel like these are the students who are being most overlooked as all of our focus goes to those students who try to rebel against the system. For the first time in my life, I question whether it is truly beneficial to force every kid to attend a school. Or, as crazy as this sounds, maybe there needs to be different kinds of public schools; those for kids who wish to be there, and those for kids who just need to get an education but will ruin everyone else’s focus every few minutes in a classroom.

In any case, I know after these three days that I do not have all of the answers. I’ve never punched anyone and couldn’t tell you the amount of rage it must take to lay your hands on someone in such a way. I have never fallen asleep in a class and cannot tell you how it makes sense for a student to fall asleep, not because they are tired, because they don’t care.

Is it parental upbringing? I’d like to think so.

But I’d also like to question why administrators, teachers, and heck… even the state, would allow such actions to continue with hundreds of students every day. While parents do have the most control over a students’ attitude and life, the kids also spend a lot more time in school than at home. So how come no one in authority seems to have any ounce of influence?

Maybe I will never know. Maybe we will never get these answers. Maybe Trump was right to nominate someone who is so intent on changing almost all aspects of the school systems. I’m just really not sure anymore…

What I am sure of is the fact that I love taking a pay cut to work in the Catholic schools. I am sure of the fact that I do not care to have a full-time job next year. And finally, I am sure of the fact that three little kindergarten girls made my day today when they ran up to me with hugs and said:

“Will you come in here and be with us again tomorrow?”

“I love you.”

and

“I hope you have the best weekend ever!”

Thank you kids, and thank you to the Diocese for giving me a place to go where such interaction can still exist with these students who are some of the kindest, smartest, and most compassionate people I have ever met in my life. I will be forever grateful.

 

~B

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The Next Chapter

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It happened late last week. I got my schedule of students and my classroom assignments. I never really thought about it until this point, but I have officially made it through my second year of teaching, my first of being full-time. I honestly never thought that I would get so far or be so able to succeed in this environment. Looking back on how I was in school as a student, I never would have thought that entering a school building was one of the best feelings in the entire world. It’s amazing how much I love to teach and inspire others but how scared and fearful I used to feel in the setting where most learning and inspiration takes place.

This year might be a little rough for a couple of reasons. As I count down the hours in my last week of “freedom”, I feel excited for the start of this next year, but anxious about all of the changes and adaptations that I will go through within just the first few weeks back. I know in my heart that I will survive, just as I’ve survived the past few years. But for now, I am fine feeling slightly nervous and unable to put my full level of excitement into the upcoming orientations, trips, and classes.

I guess one of the biggest changes will be positive. I’ve been through this entire process before, so I will be spending more time helping out the new teachers than I will trying to figure my own way through the chaos. I also get my own classroom, though I’m unsure if that will be a positive or negative when I have to share it with at least two other people… I tried setting up the room the other day, only to realize that once all of the tables have been set in their perfect spot for the first day of school, the administration will come in and move them anyway for our first day of teacher orientation meetings. Seems like there should be a law against that! (Just kidding!!)

I’m not so much looking forward to the changing of my students. I am excited to get to know new kids, but I am not so excited to realize that the seniors from last year won’t be roaming the halls as usual. They were truly like my siblings in so many senses of the word, particularly towards the end of the year. I’m praying that it won’t feel like the relationships we’ve built will no longer exist simply because they don’t spend their days in my room anymore.

I’ll just have to put my whole heart into this year and pray that things work out. But for now, I feel like there is one thing that I can do to help. So below is the list of at least ten things that every teacher should remember in order to succeed throughout any school year. Just, please, remember that I made this list and it might not make sense to everyone.

  1. Remember that you have the ability to change people’s lives. Never stop trying even if you have the worst day in the world. One day, even those students who say they hate you may turn around and be happy to know that you were there to support them through anything.
  2. Allow the creativity to flow. I’ve decorated my bulletin board with sayings that don’t even pertain to Math (well one does). Instead, I’ve made a sign saying “Please excuse the mess, my children are making memories.” Yes, I stole the quote from somewhere else, but I truly believe that having a relaxed atmosphere will make any class or day better in the end. I know I need to work more on sticking to the rules in my syllabi but I also see the huge advantages of treating the classroom like a home.
  3. Find a group of supportive teachers who will make your life easier and will listen to you as you talk out your bad moments and exult in the good. My support system somewhat fell apart from last year since so many teachers moved on, but I feel like I can make a support system again just as easily as I did last year. I just hope that I don’t have to do all of the supporting since I’m no longer the newbie.
  4. When in doubt, grade. If you don’t have anything to grade, then organize. These are the two things that will keep you distracted from drama and politics of schooling. You’ll also get brownie points from the parents and the students if you grade quickly and keep in contact with them to make sure things stay organized.
  5. Rely on your students to help carry the load. Allow them to make decisions (within reason), ask them for help when grading or recreating your bulletin board. I’m particularly lucky with my students; most of them seek ways to help rather than dreading to be asked.
  6. When your students make goals at the beginning of the year, make your own. If your kids don’t already do something along the lines of goal setting, make sure they start.
  7. Bring parts of your life into your work day. Don’t tell everyone your deepest, darkest secrets, and be careful who you tell what to, but letting your students into little tidbits about your life will make them more comfortable approaching you for help and advice. Just don’t give out any advice that you don’t truly believe in. And never down talk any of your coworkers, parents, etc. within the school system (not that you should ever talk that way at all).
  8. Eat healthy and take the stairs as often as possible. Sometimes it’s ridiculous how fast you can gain weight or get exhausted from standing on your feet all day; you stand ALL day but you don’t necessarily move around! Don’t overcompensate by eating too much. I’m going to try not to eat such unhealthy foods this year either.
  9. Don’t do it unless you love it. Make sure that you are in it for the kids, for the love of teaching, and for the chance to change the world for the better. If you’re in this career for the money, the “fame”, or any other selfish reason, get out and get out now. (I know, a little too late considering most schools start next week, but oh well…)
  10. Finally, don’t forget you have your own life to live. Making your job an enjoyable part of your life is extremely important, but it’s hard to realize that you are leaving your family and friends behind when the job gets too busy. Try not to let it happen. I myself know that I am super nervous about the lesser amount of time that I will have to see my boyfriend, my sister, my parents, and my pup once school returns. I’m not sure why I’m so nervous about that now, but I am. Last year at this time I was single. Now I wonder how my boyfriend will feel once it seems like I am “leaving him out” because of my lack of time. And I hope my family won’t suffer from that as well because now I am sharing my time with them and work AND my man.

I’m praying everything works out. I guess we will start to find out on Monday when all of this school year nonsense comes to be reality.

~Me

Wacky Wednesday- High School Relived (L1T1)

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Thank you to my genius boyfriend for deciding that if I’m going to write on all of the topics in the list, I should just start with the first one. (One of them that I have been dreading honestly.) Thanks for the advice; I should have known better than to ask you!

1. That thing that happened in high school that pretty much changed your life forever

So here’s the thing… this story starts way back before high school even began. Probably sixth or seventh grade actually. When I started to be bullied, sometimes by people that I had considered my best friends. This fact isn’t super important until you take into account that it made me extremely nervous about my first day of high school. A new start some people say? Or just a continuation of my middle school years (as I had assumed it would be)?

I arrived at school that morning feeling pretty nervous but overall good about myself. I was interested to see how things would work out and what my classes would be like. I’m a nerd, geek, dork, whatever- but back then I hated school. All I wanted that day was to survive.

The first few periods were stressful but decent. (How exactly do you traverse three sets of stairs and travel to the other end of the school in five minutes? Why wouldn’t my locker’s lock open so I could just get that textbook!?) Then I got to English. Oh English, how I love you. But back then, something had changed my mind.

The teacher was an older lady and instead of being in a class of students of high achievement as I was used to (sorry, I’m not trying to brag), I was with a mixed group of freshman. Yay me! No more bullying, I thought. She started speaking about the course syllabus, the supplies we would need to bring to class each day, and the normal first-day topics. We all sat silently (and bored) as she rambled about what was supposed to be important material. I never used that information again…

At the end of class, we were asked to raise our hand if there were questions. Many students asked silly things- can we write in pen? How much homework will we have? Do we need to carry this book with us all the time? What did you say earlier about needing a notebook and a binder?

I sat in the back of the classroom bored. Then I realized that there was a question I had been meaning to ask for weeks. You see, it is school’s policy that each summer the students read three “exciting summer reads”. When they return to school, they test on each of the three books that they have read: one essay, one exam, and one presentation or some nonsense like that.

Anyway, my friends, cousins, etc. had all been discussing these summer reading books with me over the summer since it was my first time completing the assignment. I didn’t know how much information I needed to remember, how much detail I would need to recall later on. So I asked. Some people said I had to write all of my own notes, some said I could use a review page (pulled from somewhere like SparkNotes) to job my memory. There were no straight answers- everyone had something different to say. So… that day, sitting in that hot, non-air-conditioned classroom with a bunch of other froshes, I asked the question that I had been wondering about for weeks.

“What is the deal with the summer reading exam? Can we use a review sheet or must we use our own notes in order to complete the test?” Simple. Innocent.

Yet that one moment where I had decided to speak out amongst my peers changed my life forever. It, along with the last class of the day (Gym, of all things) is what finally pushed me over the edge.

You see, the teacher replied in a nasty tone. What she had to say wasn’t nice. In my opinion, asking the question was better than assuming the answer. But not to her. To this grey-haired menace, I was asking whether she would let me get away with cheating or not. Thus ensued a huge lecture…

“If you, or anyone else in here for that matter, think that you are going to cheat on this exam, think again! It will not be tolerated in this classroom and I will NEVER let you get away with it. Whatever you might be thinking about doing, think again…” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I was lucky that I wasn’t in tears. I survived that class, and the class after that (where I got yelled at for having a broken finger and “trying to get out of” playing volleyball). By the time I got home, my face was red, my eyes were swollen, and I had had enough.

My parents tried to fix the situation- they had for years. Talk to the teachers about the students who were bullying me. Explain my anxiety and seek simple accommodations. Then, the evening of my first day as a “big freshman”, they tried to get my class schedule transferred so that I didn’t have to deal with the bully of a teacher that I had.

The school wouldn’t work with me, not at all. I couldn’t test out of a grade (even just for English). I couldn’t have another teacher (she was the only one who taught the college level courses that my “brain” needed. I was stuck. The guidance counselor would not even meet with my parents to discuss the situation in person. However, they did inform us that my best bet was to just “go to another school.” They even went so far as to recommend one. A cyber school- the new, cool thing to do. It was a school where the district sent all of their delinquents, pregnant teens, etc. But that’s where I ended up. That’s where I stayed. For all three years of my high school experience (haha to you district!). I graduated top ten of my class even though I was only a Junior, and I haven’t regretted it since.

The worst first day of high school that I could have imagined became one of the best things that ever happened to me. The three years that followed were the best years of my life. They convinced me that school is something I am allowed to love. Being smart is a bonus, an asset, not something to hide and deny. I met my inspiration there- the math teacher who convinced me I was good enough to take AP tests my freshman year with the rest of the seniors.

I have bad thoughts about those days still. But I haven’t truly, wholly regretted the decision to leave public school since.

For those of you who think that decisions and actions described above were overreactions, please do not forget that you should not judge a book by its cover. My blog is new, you are all people whom I’ve never met in my life. The situations described may not be life-changing to you, but they were a huge deal to me. Please keep that in mind when commenting. However, if you have some constructive criticism or something nice to say, please let me know in the comments below!